China: More Rail Officials Probed on Corruption Suspicions

Yet another senior railway official is reportedly under investigation for corruption, as cadres in the mainland's rail sector are probed following the sacking of former railways minister Liu Zhijun in February.

The Communist Party's anti-graft agency put Su Shunhu , deputy director of the Ministry of Railways' Transportation Bureau, under investigation about a month ago, the Economic Observer reported on Wednesday, citing an unnamed source in the rail sector.

Su was investigated partly because he allegedly helped an Inner Mongolian coal businessman "co-ordinate the planned railway transportation capacity for his coal", and took a piece of property in Beijing as a gift from the man, the report said.

Since Liu's downfall, Su has become the second-highest railway official to be investigated after his immediate superior, Zhang Shuguang , then-director of the ministry's transportation bureau, was placed under investigation in late February.

Su was bold, candid, and quite popular among journalists and officials in the railway sector, the report said. The last time he talked to the media was late last month, before the opening of the Beijing-Shanghai high-speed railway.

He told China Newsweek that the railway's opening would allow for the separate transportation of passengers and cargo, and that the capacity of freight trains between the two biggest cities in China could grow to more than 130 million tonnes a year.

Su's résumé shows he graduated from Lanzhou Railway University in 1980 for his undergraduate studies, and from Peking University in 2003 for postgraduate studies. He had run the bureau's Freight Transport Department and was deputy director of the Kunming Railway Bureau in Yunnan province .

Five other railway officials have reportedly been placed under investigation since Liu's downfall, which resulted from a "severe violation" of discipline. Mainland media recently reported that Du Houzhi , head of the Harbin -Dalian railway passenger line, was dismissed at the end of June.

Shao Liping , head of the Nanchang Railway Bureau in Jiangxi ; Lin Fenqiang , the railway chief in Hohhot , Inner Mongolia ; and Ma Junfei , Hohhot's deputy railway chief, were all placed under investigation for corruption last month, according to reports in the Economic Observer and Caixin Century.

Wu Qiang , former chief of the Shanghai Railway Bureau, took over as director of the Railway Ministry's transportation bureau late last month, Caixin Century reported.

Wu had advocated merging the Railways Ministry with the new Ministry of Transport, and he expressed surprise when a merger in 2008 did not include the Railways Ministry, the report said.

The Railways Ministry has been at the centre of public debate not only for corruption, but also for the controversial Beijing-Shanghai high-speed railway. Six failures occurred within its first five days of operation, from June 30, leading to delays for dozens of trains.

In a press conference yesterday, a spokesman for the Railways Ministry, Wang Yongping , said it would take about two to three months to work out all the kinks in the line, and that it was normal to have failures before the end of this period.

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